creenshot of Flannery O'Connor reading a letter by a mailbox from the Wildcat movie trailer

Wildcat Movie: Why Flannery O’Connor Matters

I am still trying to find a theater nearby that is showing the new film, Wildcat, directed by Ethan Hawke and starring his daughter Maya Hawke as Flannery O’Connor.

I hated Flannery O’Connor’s stories until I loved them, and I believe her work continues to matter because she helps us understand what it means to be human. She sees us in all our vulnerabilities and frailties and petty faults and grievances, and she holds out hope that we can be saved from ourselves and redeemed by grace.

There are lots of characters with disabilities in O’Connor’s work, and they can seem like caricatures or even pitiable humans at times. But that’s not the point at all. O’Connor writes about so many characters with disabilities because they embody the beautiful and broken aspects of our common humanity in a way that everyone can see. The story of disability in O’Connor’s fiction invites us all into a different way of understanding our humanity, a different way of being.

People with disabilities are not on the fringe of the created order for O’Connor. Rather, they are central to what it means to be human, what it means to be creatures with a Creator. Characters with disabilities demonstrate humanity on both a physical and spiritual level. The fact that most able-bodied people want to ignore the existence of individuals with disabilities, or explain away their disabilities in terms of sin or fate, only underscores O’Connor’s point. As people with obvious limitations, brokenness, vulnerability, and need, individuals with disabilities are gifts, visible signs of an invisible reality that matters to all of us.

And so, I really want to see how her life is portrayed in Wildcat. I hope you get a chance to see it too.

screenshot of Flannery O'Connor reading a letter by a mailbox from the Wildcat movie trailer. Text overlay at the bottom says: Why Flannery O'Connor Matters


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